Good Sam by Dete Meserve, which we thoroughly enjoyed! So we're delighted to welcome Dete to the blog this week, to find out more about her inspiration behind Good Sam, her writing habits, and exciting future projects...
Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
TV reporter Kate Bradley searches for the anonymous Good Samaritan giving away $1 million cash.
What inspired you to write Good Sam?
I enjoy reading mysteries but I grew tired of having to get inside the head of a killer or psychopath in order to sink myself into the latest mystery/suspense thriller. Plus it seemed to me in order to remain “current and edgy,” each mystery I read or watched on TV seemed to be increasing the grisly-factor. I wrote Good Sam because I wanted to give readers a compelling mystery without killers, dead bodies or criminals—yet with real stakes, a lot of twists, a romance at the center, and an inspiring story about the search for a mysterious person who is doing extraordinary good.
It’s very unsexy but I write in the basement near the washing machine. It’s a relatively low-traffic area and since I write primarily after 9 at night and have three kids, it’s perhaps the only quiet place in the whole house.
What is your favourite book?
My favorite book is constantly changing. Right now I’m obsessed with reading Harlan Coben’s Missing You. I haven’t had time to dive into a new book these past few months because of the release of Good Sam and other demands on my time, so it’s great to escape into his book and let the mystery unfold for me, instead of working on writing a mystery myself.
Which part of Good Sam did you enjoy writing the most?
That’s tough to answer but I’d have to say it was the part where we find out who the real Good Sam is and why he was leaving $100,000 on strangers’ front porches. It was a difficult set of scenes to write because the story had to be told in a way that would be believable, emotionally powerful and tie up the mystery in a satisfying way. At the same time, the reveal of that surprising truth would change everything between the main characters and create a whole new set of complications for them to overcome. Challenging, but fulfilling.
The week before Good Sam came out, a mysterious benefactor in San Francisco began giving away $100 bills causing a nationwide media frenzy. How did that impact the book?
This was a serendipitous case of reality imitating fiction! Many people thought the anonymous donor, @HiddenCash, was part of the marketing campaign for Good Sam but, of course, he wasn’t. But his timing was uncanny as he came to Los Angeles, where Good Sam is set, the weekend before the novel was released. That drew a lot of interest to the book and I was able to have a private email discussion with @HiddenCash. There are many similarities between @HiddenCash and Good Sam, but in the end, Good Sam’s reason for giving away one million dollars are very different from what @HiddenCash is trying to do.
Now the book is being developed into a TV movie and series?
Wind Dancer Films has optioned the book. The plan is to produce the story in Good Sam as a two-hour movie which will launch a series following TV news reporter Kate Bradley as she solves crimes and mysteries, transforms futures, and often—but not always—uncovers good.
At your Book Launch event earlier in summer, you honored several real-life Good Sams. How did that come about?
Once early buzz about the novel traveled around social media, I began hearing about Real-Life Good Sams. By that I mean, people who are doing extraordinary good on a regular basis without expectation of reward and sometimes at great personal sacrifice. I so admired what they were doing that I honored three of them at my Book Launch event:
Cathy O'Grady of Boston performed 318 Acts of Kindness in memory of a friend's husband who passed away after 318 days fighting cancer. Cathy left anonymous gifts for the homeless on park benches, gave away care packages at facilities for adults with cancer, baked cookies for anxious families waiting for news in the hospital, and much more.
Daniel Smith from Provo, Utah had lost his job last winter and decided to dedicate 30 days to Acts of Kindness. He spent the next month giving away gift cards in the Walmart parking lot, secretly paid for lunches at a steakhouse, paid for an elderly woman’s groceries, and more.
Larry Collins is Battalion Chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. What makes Larry a compelling Good Sam is his inability to see the extraordinary courage of what he does every day – putting his life on the line for strangers. If you ask him how he managed to pull a young boy from swift water while suspended from a line below a helicopter during blinding rain, he’s very likely to say quietly, “It’s what we train for” in the same tone most of us would use to describe crossing the street.
It’s been a profound experience getting to know these Real-Life Good Sams and now I’m hearing again and again their stories are inspiring many people to do beautiful Acts of Kindness. Now people regularly send me emails and posts about other real-life Good Sams and I post their stories on www.Facebook.com/GoodSamBook.
Who is your favourite literary heroine?
It might not be surprising when I say Jo March from Little Women. I read that book several times when I was growing up and I admired Jo, not only because she wrote stories and plays and had a vivid imagination, but also because she was smart, sometimes impulsive, outspoken, and unwilling to let others dictate who she was going to be.
Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Write, rewrite and repeat. Be careful about showing your work too early in the process. I recently found an early outline of Good Sam and I’m very glad I never showed it to anyone. So much changes as you continue to work on a project that you have to give the idea and the characters time to breathe and expand before asking others to review and comment.
Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
In the book writing part of my life, I’m working on a sequel to Good Sam where we follow the main character, TV reporter Kate Bradley, as she covers another nationwide story that has viewers and police mystified. I’m also working on developing the adaptation of Good Sam into a television movie and series.
You can find out more about Dete Meserve and Good Sam by visiting Twitter, Facebook and Dete's website.